The Week In Review: Manufacturing

2018 trends; breaking Moore’s Law; China foundry sales; ASICs.

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Test, measurement and fab tools
National Instruments (NI) has released a report that explores the future trends in the electronics industry. The report, called the NI Trend Watch 2018, looks at the technological advances and some of the biggest challenges engineers face in 2018.

The report from NI looks at the following topics—machine learning; test challenges for 5G; IIoT; and effects of electrification. Another one is entitled: “Breaking Moore’s Law.” This one explores the fate of the 50-year-old observation, which is clearly slowing down.

Applied Ventures, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, recently invested in Avegant, a developer of next-generation light field displays. Avegant is attempting to solve the focal mismatch issues by using multiple light fields to create 3D images.

Astronics has added the dual frequency converter unit (DFCU) to its system line of products.

Chipmakers
As expected, TSMC plans to build a fab for 3nm processes. The fab will be located in the Tainan Science Park in Taiwan. Separately, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang announced plans that he will retire after the annual shareholders meeting in June of 2018. From then, TSMC will be under the dual leadership of Mark Liu and C.C. Wei. Mark Liu, currently co-president, will become chairman. C.C. Wei, currently co-president, will become chief executive.

Dialog Semiconductor, a provider of power management chips, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Silego Technology, a supplier of configurable mixed signal ICs, for a cash payment of $276 million with additional contingent consideration of up to $30.4 million.

Intel announced that the company’s former CEO Paul Otellini passed away in his sleep Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, at the age of 66. Otellini became Intel’s fifth chief executive in 2005. “We are deeply saddened by Paul’s passing,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said. “He was the relentless voice of the customer in a sea of engineers, and he taught us that we only win when we put the customer first.”

Market research
In total, pure-play foundry sales in China are expected to jump by 16% this year to about $7.0 billion, more than double the rate of increase for the total pure-play foundry market, according to IC Insights. “As a result of this growth, most pure-play foundries have made plans to locate or expand IC production in mainland China over the next few years,” according to the research firm. “TSMC, GlobalFoundries, UMC, Powerchip, and, most recently, TowerJazz have announced plans to boost their China-based wafer fabrication production.”


Fig. 1: China foundry sales are booming.

There is still a slew of fab activity worldwide, according to SEMI, which listed just some of the projects.

There is a great deal of ASIC design activity around AI and other applications, according to a report from Semico. “AI in the form of pattern recognition, voice recognition and language translation will find its way into almost every device and application that has a CPU, GPU, DSP, VPU or FPGA and some level of computational resources in the near future,” said Rich Wawrzyniak, a senior analyst for ASIC/SoC research at Semico. “There is demand for these types of capabilities at every level and in every market segment to some degree. We believe these capabilities will become ‘check-box’ items at the very least and could spark the next great surge in the semiconductor market.”